Max Verstappen fights off Charles Leclerc to secure pole in Miami GP qualifying

The Dutchman is closing in on another record after fighting off the challenge from Leclerc for top spot on the grid for the 2024 Miami GP

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Max Verstappen will start on pole for the Formula 1 2024 Miami Grand Prix after the Red Bull driver posted the fastest lap in qualifying on Saturday.

The 26-year-old continued his perfect record of securing pole in every race this season after pipping Leclerc to pole by a tenth of a second with a 1:27.241, becoming the first driver to secure seven straight poles since Alain Prost in 1993.

Carlos Sainz will start in third ahead of Sergio Perez in fourth, with Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri fifth and sixth respectively. Despite some marginal improvements and making it into Q3, Mercedes remain way off the pace with George Russell starting ahead of Lewis Hamilton in P7.

Verstappen would have had his doubts after complaining to his engineers about issues with the balance of his RB20 in the F1 Sprint race. And things didn’t look much better in qualifying as he struggled to produce his usual level of dominance through the session.

Max Verstappen during practice ahead of 2024 Miam Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Max Verstappen during practice ahead of 2024 Miam Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

On a fresh set of soft tyres, Leclerc set the early pace in Q2 with an impressive time of 1:27.533, two tenths quicker than Oscar Piastri and a huge four tenths clear of Verstappen. And after a queue from the pit lane for the second run, the track began to ramp up on a warm day in Florida.

Verstappen improved but couldn’t beat Leclerc’s time in Q2, suggesting there could be a three or even four-way battle for a front-row start in Q3 as the Dutchman aimed for a seventh consecutive pole position. And he found some extra pace on brand new rubber to clinch top spot.

More disappointment for Mercedes

After a disappointing sprint qualifying which saw Russell and Hamilton qualify 11th and 12th respectively, the Silver Arrows appeared to have more pace in qualifying after making tweaks to their setup.

But they were still some way adrift of the Red Bulls and Ferraris at the front, with Verstappen setting the fastest time in Q1 with a 1:27.689 – a fraction quicker than his team-mate Perez.

Yuki Tsunoda and Nico Hulkenberg the beneficiaries as both Aston Martin drivers Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso failed to improve in Q2 and will start 11th and 13th respectively.

Down at the bottom, both Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly managed to get out of Q1 for the first time this season, while RB driver Daniel Ricciardo, who qualified fourth for the sprint race, will start from the back of the grid due to three-place grid penalty after managing only 17th.

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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